This blog shares my experience, tips, and advice about running blogs and my website Blogcrowds.com. I'll explore what I think works well, if it worked or not through trial, error and everything in between. More...
Now that you have a domain name, its time to find a server to host your blog/website on. Most alternatively hosted blogs such as BlogSpot or TypePad users won't have to worry about this; they are already hosting by Blogger or TypePad, but it is still good to know about webhosting.
First off, a server is just a computer(s) which contains your website files that is always on and always connected. This way, the server can send your webpages to people half way around the world even while you are sleeping. The reason why sometimes you receive an unable to connect error from your browser is because the specific server that holds the information for the website you requested is not on or down for some reason. Because of the nature and speed of the modern Internet infrastructure, the location of the web server does not really matter. You can even use a spare computer as a web server. However as your blog/website out grows the capacity of your computer and bandwidth offered by your internet company/ISP, you will be looking for a webhost. Besides, its much easier to let someone else worry about the technical stuff while you write.
When talking about webhosting and servers there are two technical details you have to understand, disk space and bandwidth. Many people often mix the two since they are similar and both measured in megabytes - gigabytes, but the concepts are quite simple, let me illustrate with a MP3 file. Although most bloggers won't offer songs for download, I will use it as an example because everyone is familiar with MP3 files and how its 'exchanged' around the world. So, say you have a 5 megabit MP3 file on your server, then you would have used 5 megabits of disk space. The disk space usage won't change until you add or delete something on the server. When someone request the MP3, your server will send the file using 5 megabit of bandwidth. When someone download the MP3 file again, the server will use another 5 megabit of bandwidth adding up to 10 megabit of bandwidth for a total of two downloads of a 5 megabit MP3 file. Your bandwidth accumulates over the month while disk space quota remains the same until files are added or deleted. It is important to know these two concepts for that you pay for webhosting in terms of both disk space and bandwidth.
Webhosting services rent their servers in two ways. First, shared hosting, which means a number of websites/clients are hosted off one server sharing the space and resources. On the other hand with dedicated hosting you have control over an entire server and its up to you how many websites the server will host. In comparison, dedicated hosting naturally give you more control, disk space, bandwidth and needless to say, dedicated hosting cost a lot more than shared hosting. Most webhosts should several different hosting packages such starter, intermediate, pro for shared hosting and different server specs for dedicate hosting. Some webhost also has free hosting packages.
There are literally thousands of webhosts out there, so how do you find the one right for you? Some people trust big hosts like HostGator or Dreamhost while others prefer their local webhosts so when they have a problem they can talk to someone in person instead of waiting for a phone call or email reply. To find reviews for webhosting, you can visit http://www.webhostingtalk.com/ where many people share their hosting experience.
When choosing webhosts, just make sure you have enough disk space, bandwidth, specific features (eg. PHP & MySql for WordPress) you need and an option to upgrade later. Also check how reliable the webhost is, you don't want visitor only getting access to your site at one o'click in the morning. In the beginning, the minimal shared hosting package provided by any webhost should be sufficient. The price is usually for. There is one very important advice that should remember: you get what you paid for. Never signup for a host that only offers free hosting or free hosting that give you a whopping amount of bandwidth/disk space.
Never signup for a host that only offers free hosting? Why? Well, these kind of hosting usually only have one administrator and one server. In this scenario, some must-have server features such programming language or database support may be missing. Additionally, without monthly charges there are really only two incentives for the administrator to offer free hosting.
First, the admin wish to build a large user base so he/she could sell the hosting service quickly. To build a huge user base, administrators offer free hosting and often oversells (covered shortly). At sufficient level of membership built up from between weeks to months, the hosting service will exchange hands. Sometimes there will a lapse of service ranging from days to months as the new owner sets up. When the hosting does return, the new owner most likely will stop overselling and charge for webhosting. Those people who are attracted by free hosting and overselling will move on after these changes.
The other reason is just plain good will. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the good will of the admin, I have found many admins taking hours a day to help people with their webhost. What I am questioning is without monetary incentive, how motivated is the admin to restore the server after it had been hacked or the database crashed. How motivated is the admin to make sure these disasters never happen again? Unfortunately, usually with only one admin, these disaster are more than common.
You should also avoid free hosting that offers a whopping amount of bandwidth/disk space, in other words as described earlier, overselling. The biggest problem with overselling is not that the offer may disappear soon, but the practice itself. As mentioned before, most free host only have one server and limited resources, yet they advertise as much as 5gig disk space/10gig monthly transfer (bandwidth). It would alright if the hosts limit the number of users to how much with how many 5gig accounts their server could take. Instead, these hosts assume that most users use less than the advertised 5gig/10gig. In a sense these hosts are selling more resource than they actually have, hence overselling. There will be serious problems when the host's demand exceed its resources. Stop signups won't solve problem, the users already signed up are expanding beyond their 'actual' limit but far from the whopping 5gig/10gig offered by the webhost. Overselling is the reason why some webhosts and their servers are often down or extremely slow.
Those are the reasons you should never signup for a host that only offers free hosting or free hosting that give you a whopping amount of bandwidth/disk space. People who uses these services usually have to switch hosts every few month. After reading that you might think that totally against free hosting, but that's not the case. For free webhosting, I recommend signup for a reliable paid hosting service that also offers free hosting. One example is awardspace it offers 200megabits of disk space. Honestly, in the beginning, that is more than enough. 50megabits for wordpress and a domain name, you are good to go with your blog. When you exceed the limit, you are doing very well and hopefully able to pay for webhosting.
Mirror at: Blogcrowds - Find The Right Web Host
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